La Feria school board election signs remained up on Friday for a candidate now accused of defrauding the US government. Joel Villalon is one of six defendants charged in a 16 count indictment recently unsealed. His wife, Jeanette Villalon, said in an exclusive interview with Action 4 News that she's standing by her man. "[I] Just support my husband... He's innocent... I know he's innocent," Villalon said. Her husband is linked to an alleged 102 million dollar agricultural commodities fraud scheme. It involves the United States Department of Agriculture or (USDA). The charges range from mail fraud, wire fraud to making false statements to a bank, bribery even money laundering. Jeannette Villalon admits how she knew her husband's arrest was imminent, but she dismissed his involvement. "He's innocent... He's innocent... He was just caught up in the legal matters... He had nothing to do with it... It's like you have your job and they expect you to do your job, she said. Villalon has been serving on La Feria's school board for 12 years. He's seeking reelection against 1 opponent in the race. The father of two apparently has no plans to bail out of public service-- unless he TMs forced to do so."If because of this matter he needs to step down... He's not going to do it because he hasn't done anything wrong... He hasn't done anything wrong," Villalon said. And while the couple celebrates 20 years of marriage, Jeannette Villalon knows her husband faces a possible 20 years behind bars.
Click here to read the press release from the US Dept. of Justice on the case against Villalon and two other Valleyites.http://www.justice.gov/usao/txs/releases/April%202010/040810%20Villalon%20et%20al_print.htm